Wednesday, 28 August 2013

DIY I Do : My Wedding Reception Dress : A Cambie Muslin

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In my post earlier in the week I revealed that I had made a dress for my wedding reception. Well, although muslins aren't my favourite thing to do and I have been known not to both with them from time to time, I thought a wedding dress deserved the effort involved in making a muslin! As described in my inspiration post I wanted to make a dress with a full bodied gathered skirt, a sweetheart bodice and a spotty tulle asymmetrical overlay. After searching through my pattern collection I realised that the Sewaholic Cambie dress would be pretty much perfect for this! 

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I had seen so many beautiful versions of this dress so I was excited to finally make one for myself. There was a gorgeous floral cotton in my stash and although I was nervous to 'waste' it on a muslin that might not work out I decided to just go for it and hope for the best! I'm so glad I did as I absolutely LOVE this dress - definitely one of my favourite makes. 

And Tasia strikes again with her fantastic pattern drafting and instruction writing. What a dream this was to sew up. Every step of the way was a joy, and I'm definitely getting good at putting in an invisible zip. I lined the dress in the softest, butteriest white cotton lawn and it is so beautiful next to the skin. Perhaps a little pricey as linings go, but I think I'm converted! The only thing I would say is that occasionally you can see the lining peeking out past the sleeves, as you can see in the above photo, so perhaps I should have under-stitched that or something?

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Now for the blooper! My dress strangely ended up tight at the waist - like, no eating at all while wearing the dress and sit down while holding your breath in tight! I couldn't understand why this had happened because I was sure that I had cut my size. And then I checked what size I had cut out…yes, I had cut my correct waist size, but it was the waist size of the FINISHED garment I had read, rather than the pattern size to cut (which would have included ease)!!! Doh! So it's a bit on the snug side, to say the least.

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Ironically this turned out for the best because for my actual wedding reception dress I would be needing to get rid of the sleeves and make the dress strapless. That would mean adding boning for support and a tighter fit would be advantageous as well! Everything happens for a reason so it seems.

On a side note, after wearing this dress a couple of times, I noticed that some of the stitches where you attach the sleeves to the bodice had ripped and the corner of the sleeve is peeking out. I do believe that that is mainly because I have made the dress too tight for me, but it is also a place that would come under a bit of day to day strain, so I would recommend reinforcing that line of stitches if you are ever planning on making a version for yourself.

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So all in all this is a fabulous dress and I am totally in love with it. I feel super girly in it and find myself flouncing around like a fool - but I kind of like that! I see many more Cambies in my life. 

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 Oh - and it has pockets! I LOVE POCKETS!!!!!

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That is all.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

DIY I Do : My Wedding Reception Dress : Inspiration

Yep, you read that correctly, this post is all about the inspiration behind my Wedding Reception Dress, because…I made it!


When I first started looking at wedding dresses I went and tried on a few, including the beautiful Justin Alexander dress above. It was love at first sight, but at £2000*, it was over my budget. My top tip for brides just starting out in their quest to find the perfect wedding dress – don’t try on any dresses that are over your budget…it will only break your heart!

At the same time as trying on dresses I also had a wee thought in the back of my mind that I may try and sew my dress rather than buy one. I mentioned it in this post back in August ‘12, but the majority of comments back were warning me against it, saying I would have enough to worry about without adding to the load. Plus most of my family and close friends and acquaintances also suggested against it. To be honest, do you know how that made me feel? I know this is totally not what they were implying, but I honestly did feel that there was a general consensus that I didn’t have the skills to make my dress. And perhaps that’s true, but doubt fuels my fire and just made me want to prove them wrong! I had a style, the fabric and the franken-pattern all worked out. But I knew it would be a massive undertaking, and I began to doubt myself.

Then I tried on a dress in a bridal shop that gave me the wow feeling – and it was in the sale! At £300 I was sold. It’s the dress I ended up wearing on the day, so you will have already seen some photos of it. BUT – because I had saved so much money on my main wedding dress it was the perfect excuse to have TWO dresses on the day…which meant I could have a go at making the second dress!

Since my main wedding dress had an outer layer of delicate, floaty chiffon that couldn’t be bustled I decided to make a short reception dress that would allow me to bust a move on the dance floor that evening. My mum also told me that she had been able to source some very reasonably priced silk dupion. So, the search began for inspiration (all photo sources can be found on my Pinterest board here):


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And then I came across this gorgeous dress by Alexandra King (OMG – check out her work, it is fabulous!):


I just loved all the fabulous spotty tulle and I also loved the sweetheart neckline and the asymmetry of the tulle at the neck. However, I noticed that all my previous inspiration pictures had either a pleated or gathered skirt made out of ‘stiff’ fabric, which I really liked. So I decided to make a hybrid of the two. Again, some more inspiration pics:

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I had the silk dupion base fabric, and was able to source the perfect polka-dot tulle from a local fabric shop (for a very reasonable £7/m rather than the crazy price that lace is per meter – another reason for loving the spots!). Next I had to find a suitable pattern – has anyone got any ideas what I might have used? I’ll give you a clue – it’s a pretty recent pattern from a fantastic Indie pattern company. I’ll reveal all in my next post, the muslin!


* I know it’s not the ‘done’ thing to talk about costs, but do you know what – it was the MOST frustrating thing when I first started researching my wedding and I couldn’t find any prices for wedding dresses online, so I had no idea how much they would cost…which is one of the reasons I ended up trying on a dress that was way out of my budget. And by the way, when I say out of my budget – I could have afforded to buy the dress, but I would have had to compromised on some other aspect of the wedding. And to be honest, I couldn’t physically bring myself to shell out £2k on a dress that I would only wear once. But that was due to my own personal priorities (honeymoon was top of our list!). Plus, my logic was that by spending only £300 on my dress I had extra to spend on shoes…which I did! I may have treated myself to this pair of gorgeous Jimmy Choos. And guess what – I will definitely get to wear them more than once (and my dress and shoes combined cost less than the Justin Alexander dress)!

Friday, 23 August 2013

DIY I Do : Ties for the Page Boys

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As I mentioned in my last post, as well as making the flower girl dresses I also made matching ties for our page boys. I had previously never made ties before but had pinned a tutorial and pattern which I thought looked pretty easy. Well…I recon making these ties was harder than making the flower girls dresses!!! I made the first one months and months before the wedding…and then the rest of the material sat waiting for me to get the energy to make the other two!

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The original tutorial is made out of beautiful, well behaved Liberty Tana Lawn. My ties were made out of slippery slidey, very badly behaved, polyester! I couldn't cut the ties on a bias fold as the fabric would slide around and I was worried that it would mess up the stripes, so I had to make individual pattern pieces to lay out for each tie on the flat. And then you need to iron the ties - a lot. Well, my fabric did not like being ironed - so pins were brought out. A lot of them. And then because I was over ironing and over working my fabric, and it being cut on the bias, it grew and stretched! Which meant that the pattern pieces for the stable interlining were too short - so I had to cut new ones! BUT, as with the flower girls dresses, and other DIY parts to the wedding, it was worth it in the end as the little boys looked very dapper and very handsome!

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Tuesday, 20 August 2013

DIY I Do : The Flower Girls Dresses!

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I am so excited to finally be able to blog about my flower girl dresses! I've written a couple of previous posts about my inspiration and showed you a muslin, but today I get to reveal the finished dresses. I have to admit that I was so so SO pleased with how they turned out - in fact their dresses were perhaps one of my favourite things about the day!!
I used New Look 6309, view D, which is a basic sleeveless girls dress with gathered skirt. It was hard to pick a suitable pattern that would essentially suit both girls because one is 8 and one is 11 (going on 15!) so they are sort of in that in-between age that isn't really catered for in sewing patterns it seems. So I thought that by picking such a basic pattern it should be easy enough to alter. New Look 6309 is for ages 3-8 so I had to cut the largest size for the younger girl and sort of 'wing' it for the elder. Luckily the size 8 was a pretty good fit for the 8 yr old so I didn't have to do much altering on her at all - a little bit of pinning and such and it was good to go (phew!).
Fitting the 11 year old was another matter. She is quite mature for her age and last year went through a major growth spurt (she's almost the same size as me already!!). I ended up having to make about 4 muslins for her to get the fit right. I decided to use swedish tracing paper (or similar - minus the grid markings) to make my muslins and I have to say I'm a bit of a convert - it is just so convenient!!! Thankfully because the skirt is essentially just a large rectangle gathered I only had to worry about getting the bodice fit. But it was tricky because I have never had to fit someone else other than myself, and she has started to develop a bit of a womanly shape so darts were required. 
Oh - and to make things even more awkward - the 8 year old lives in England (I live in Northern Ireland btw) and the 11 yr old lives a 2 hr drive away!! Not so convenient for fitting. I ended up having only one opportunity to fit the 8yr old and a couple of goes for the 11yr old. But thankfully it all worked out really well! 
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 I just wanted to share the photo above to show my very happy coincidence when sewing up one of the dresses - look how well I matched the stripes on the shoulder seams….total fluke! Don't you just love it when that happens?! I have to admit that, apart from the shoulder seams (which aren't usually a place I bother with pattern matching), I worked very hard an ensuring my sewing was as neat as I could make it as I was really conscious that people would know I had made the dresses and therefore would be inspecting the sewing very closely. Do you ever find that? As soon as someone knows that an outfit is handmade they start inspecting it in great detail? Talk about putting the pressure on!! But thankfully I didn't really have any dramas with the dresses - the invisible zips were some of the best I have sewn, the stripes on the bottom matched up and the lining went in smoothly - I was very lucky!
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 In a previous post I mentioned that I was planning on making a striped sash for the dresses. I had planned this all along but one day my mum put the idea of a coral silk sash into my head. I had the muslin of the dress over at her house at the time and she had some suitable silk to hand, and once I saw them paired together I thought it would be a really lovely touch. My bouquet was to have some coral peonies in it, and the cake would have coral flowers on it as well, so we thought it would be the perfect way to tie everything together.  
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Now here is confession time - I didn't make the sashes! They are homemade though. Evidently I may have bitten off more than I could chew, and I was really feeling the pressure of so much DIY and sewing that needed to be done for the wedding. My mum kept asking if there was anything she could help with - so I decided to ask her to make the sashes. She was more than happy to help. No pattern was used, she just winged it (that's how us Wilsons sew most things apparently!), but they turned out beautifully. She made the 8yr olds a bit wider than the 11yr olds as we thought a narrower sash would be more age appropriate for the elder girl, and both were lined with quite stiff interlining which meant they kept their shape really well all day.
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 Both dresses were fully lined with lovely soft white cotton. On the skirt linings I sewed two rows of gathered tulle to give the skirts some 'flooffiness' as I call it (aka body and shape!) - the girls loved it and enjoyed twirling and dancing all day!
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Although at times I was in major stress mode and cursing taking on so much, I honestly am now so please and proud to have made the girls dresses. They turned out exactly how I wanted them and added such a quirky, unique and personal touch to the day.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

DIY I Do : The Stationery and some fun extras

So today I'm just go to do a short blog post sharing how we did our wedding stationery. I know this is primarily a sewing, and sometimes crafting, blog, but I just wanted to make my DIY I Do series complete. I thought if someone stumbles across my blog while searching for DIY wedding information they may like to know how we did our invites etc.

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I really wanted to incorporate the 'RS' knot tying image onto our stationery, but since we were trying to keep to a budget we couldn't afford to commission someone to do it for us! So after a bit of research I discovered that Vista Print did large and small postcards. I quite like messing around on publisher and was able to design PDFs of both sides of our invitation and uploaded them as 'pictures' on the large postcard option. The front of the invite was the blue and white design detailing who/when/where that you can see in the photos here. The back was all the detailed information for the day - for example directions, nearby accommodation, meal choices and gift list details. We also included an A4 sheet listing accommodation and more detailed directions including a map. A small, stamped, addressed postcard was also included as an rsvp, again with the knot tying image. Keeping to the 'tying the knot' theme, these were all tied together with lovely blue and white bakers twine and a little label attached:

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I also designed our Order of Services on Publisher and ordered them through Vista Print. I decided to go with a tri-fold brochure style, rather than the more traditional A5 folded booklet (mainly because I didn't like the thought of having to fold and bind over 100 of them!!!):

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Vista Print do a lot more than just post cards, and when ordering my invitations I may have got a little carried away with our wedding branding. A cute extra I decided to order were small circular stickers (again, they had the 'RS' on them) that we used to seal our envelopes. Honestly though, it sounds really frivolous, but they didn't cost that much, and really made the invitations extra special. If you have ever ordered anything off Vista you will know that from then on they HOUND you with 'special offers' - but actually thats a really good tip. Order something small and simple and wait for the offers to come in - you will save SO much money. Our invitations were personalised and matched our wedding 'brand' and were a fraction of the cost of going to a wedding invitation specialist. They also send you offers for 'free' things, you just have to pay the postage. Well it would be rude not to:

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So each flower girl as well as the Matron of Honour got a little personalised bag filled with their outfit necessities for the day plus a few fun little gifts thrown in too. I really enjoyed making up and filling these bags, and it was such fun seeing their faces when I gave them their bags! And since they were 'free' I decided I needed a 'Bride's Survival Kit' bag for myself too!! It turned out to be VERY useful (I kept my make-up, perfume and a pair of flats to change into during some photos and then in the evening).

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Oh…and I may even have got myself a little wedding branded mug for the day too….

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…why not - it was free!

Thursday, 15 August 2013

DIY I Do : Favours

Over the last year I have been sharing a few snaps on Instagram of Robin and I working away at making our wedding favours so it's really exciting to be able to finally share the full details. Incase you missed the Instagram shots here's a reminder:
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I decided that I wanted our favours to be functional as well as follow the theme of the wedding. A good while ago I came across the video tutorial on how to make fabric peonies on the Creature Comforts blog (which, if you haven't heard of you should totally check out because it's a really great blog full of lovely images and inspiration!). Peonies are my absolutely favourite flowers and I was planning on having Coral Charm peonies in my bouquet, so I thought it would be a lovely idea to give all the ladies peony brooches for their favours. As well as being really cute and useful (I bought brooch pins that also had a clip - so the flowers can be worn on your clothes, on a bag or in your hair!), they also added a fun pop of colour to the tables:

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Although I would happily have filled all the tables with pink peonies, I had a feeling that the men might not be so enthusiastic to receive them! So that meant thinking of a different favour for the male guests. Since our overall theme was 'tying the knot' I thought it appropriate to give the men knots, and keeping it functional decided to turn them into key rings. Again I found an online video tutorial explaining how to tie a monkey fist knot and started practising. They are a bit hard to get the hang of, and do require a bit of patience, but are totally worth the effort. My husband was really nagging me for a wedding related job to do so I tasked him to make the 60-odd key rings. Once he got the hang of the knotting (it took him quite some time, especially since he thought he could make a 'tool' to help him…why do guys do that?! lol) he chipped away at that number and managed to finish all his knots before I was even halfway through my peonies (I love the photo of him working away surrounded by knots at the top of the page!).

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Although this ended up being quite a task to take on (we had 110 guests!) I'm so glad that we made our favours - they added another personal element to the day and were a great source of conversation too. I loved looking through the photos when we came back and spotting the brooches on some of the ladies and I love the fact that everyone now has a cute and function gift that will remind them of the day.

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Tuesday, 13 August 2013

DIY I Do : We're Married!

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Hi everyone - I'm back from my lovely honeymoon and I'm now officially a Mrs! 

We had such a fantastic wedding day, which honestly flew by in a bit of a blur (everyone tells you this…and it's true!), so although I wasn't looking forward to coming home after the honeymoon (more on that another time…I may have done a little bit of fabric shopping), I was excited to get back and look through our professional photos of the day. 

As you will know, if you have been following the blog recently, my family and I have been beavering away with lots of little DIY details for the wedding and now that I'm home and have the photos back, I cannot wait to finally be able to share them all on the blog with you guys! There are so many things I want to talk about that I'm going to have to spread them out over a few blog posts - so just a warning that this blog will turn a little 'wedding-y' for awhile (although considering it's had NO posts recently, I'm guessing wedding-y posts are better than no posts!).

For now I'll just leave you with some general shots from the day. All photos were taken by the very talented and lovely Gillian Higgins.

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